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Processing political misinformation: comprehending the Trump phenomenon

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the cognitive processing of true and false political information. Specifically, it examined the impact of source credibility on the assessment of veracity when information comes from a polarizing source (Experiment 1), and effectiveness of explanations when they come from one's own political party or an opposition party (Experiment 2). These experiments were conducted prior to the 2016 Presidential election. Participants rated their belief in factual and incorrect statements that President Trump made on the campaign trail; facts were subsequently affirmed and misinformation retracted. Participants then re-rated their belief immediately or after a delay. Experiment 1 found that (i) if information was attributed to Trump, Republican supporters of Trump believed it more than if it was presented without attribution, whereas the opposite was true for Democrats and (ii) although Trump supporters reduced their belief in misinformation items following a correction, they did not change their voting preferences. Experiment 2 revealed that the explanation's source had relatively little impact, and belief updating was more influenced by perceived credibility of the individual initially purporting the information. These findings suggest that people use political figures as a heuristic to guide evaluation of what is true or false, yet do not necessarily insist on veracity as a prerequisite for supporting political candidates.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

(a,b) Belief in Trump and unattributed misinformation and facts over time, across Trump support groups and source conditions. Rep, Republican; misinfo, misinformation. Dotted lines show misinformation items. Error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.
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RSOS160802F3: (a,b) Belief in Trump and unattributed misinformation and facts over time, across Trump support groups and source conditions. Rep, Republican; misinfo, misinformation. Dotted lines show misinformation items. Error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.

Mentions: The general trend and the full trajectory of belief change over time are shown in figure 3. Figure 3a shows the unattributed condition, and b shows the Trump-attributed condition. Immediately after the corrections/affirmations, both Democrats and Republicans showed a substantial amount of belief change, which generally diminished over the course of one week for both misinformation and facts. We found no evidence for backfire effects, as post-explanation belief scores in misinformation remained below pre-explanation levels.Figure 3.


Processing political misinformation: comprehending the Trump phenomenon
(a,b) Belief in Trump and unattributed misinformation and facts over time, across Trump support groups and source conditions. Rep, Republican; misinfo, misinformation. Dotted lines show misinformation items. Error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5383823&req=5

RSOS160802F3: (a,b) Belief in Trump and unattributed misinformation and facts over time, across Trump support groups and source conditions. Rep, Republican; misinfo, misinformation. Dotted lines show misinformation items. Error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.
Mentions: The general trend and the full trajectory of belief change over time are shown in figure 3. Figure 3a shows the unattributed condition, and b shows the Trump-attributed condition. Immediately after the corrections/affirmations, both Democrats and Republicans showed a substantial amount of belief change, which generally diminished over the course of one week for both misinformation and facts. We found no evidence for backfire effects, as post-explanation belief scores in misinformation remained below pre-explanation levels.Figure 3.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the cognitive processing of true and false political information. Specifically, it examined the impact of source credibility on the assessment of veracity when information comes from a polarizing source (Experiment 1), and effectiveness of explanations when they come from one's own political party or an opposition party (Experiment 2). These experiments were conducted prior to the 2016 Presidential election. Participants rated their belief in factual and incorrect statements that President Trump made on the campaign trail; facts were subsequently affirmed and misinformation retracted. Participants then re-rated their belief immediately or after a delay. Experiment 1 found that (i) if information was attributed to Trump, Republican supporters of Trump believed it more than if it was presented without attribution, whereas the opposite was true for Democrats and (ii) although Trump supporters reduced their belief in misinformation items following a correction, they did not change their voting preferences. Experiment 2 revealed that the explanation's source had relatively little impact, and belief updating was more influenced by perceived credibility of the individual initially purporting the information. These findings suggest that people use political figures as a heuristic to guide evaluation of what is true or false, yet do not necessarily insist on veracity as a prerequisite for supporting political candidates.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus